Leon Augustin Lhermitte, also spelled L’hermitte (French, 1844-1925), “Fenaison,” or “Haymaking,” oil on canvas painting depicting workers in a field; three women and one man work under a sunny sky, harvesting hay to build a haystack while more figures, haystacks and a hut are visible in the background, set against a treeline. Signed lower left, “L. Lhermitte”. Housed in a giltwood molded Rococo style frame; plaque lower center with artist’s name and life dates. Sight – 17 3/4″ H x 21 3/4″ W. (45 cm x 55 cm). Framed – 27″ H x 31″ W. Circa 1917. Note: this painting is illustrated as no. 238 on page 150 in “Leon Augustin Lhermitte: Catalog Raisonne,” by Monique Le Pelley Fonteny (Paris: Editions Cercle d’art, 1991). The catalog entry states that it is a smaller version of Lhermitte’s circa 1890 painting, “Fenaison au Soleil.” Provenance: Private Nashville collection. Biography (source: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza): “Leon Lhermitte was born in the French region Aisne, as the son of a school teacher. In 1863 he went to Paris as a pupil of the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin, where he had the same teacher as Rodin, the well known Lecoq de Boisbaudran. A year later one of his drawings was admitted at the Salon in Paris; his first painting was accepted in 1866. In 1869 he went to London where he met Alphonse Legros, who eventually introduced him to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Lhermitte’s works sold well at Durand-Ruel’s gallery in New Bond Street. One of his paintings, “The Harvest ,” was awarded with a medal at the Paris Salon of 1874. In that period he made several trips to Bretagne. Degas invited Lhermitte to participate in the fourth exhibition of the Impressionists, but Lhermitte refused. His painting “The Payment of the Harvesters” was one of the highlights of the collection of the new Musee du Luxembourg in Paris. The art gallery Boussod, Valadon et Cie., signed a contract with Lhermitte for the exclusive rights to sell his paintings. Boussod and Valadon were the successors of the famous Goupil Gallery, which employed both Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo as sales assistants. The French Government asked Lhermitte to decorate the Salle des Commissions in the Sorbonne, and the city of Paris invited him to make a monumental painting for the decoration of the new Hotel de Ville. At the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris, Lhermitte was represented with seven paintings. He was created officer of the Legion d’Honneur and made a member of the Academie des Beaux-Arts. After the Great War, his health, which had never been very good, deteriorated and made it very difficult for him to continue his work. In his last years he only produced some pastels”. CONDITION: Painting is in excellent condition with no evidence of relining. Previous frame abrasions evident left, bottom, and right sides. UV light reveals 1 1/4″L area inpainting top right near forked hay. 1″ H x 2″ W area of scratching lower right between two women. Graphite pencil mark to right of signature evident. Negligible dot of loss middle of left edge. En verso thinning of canvas evident with previous tack holes and wear to edges. See blacklight photos.
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